The City of Campbell River will undertake a review of the fee structure it uses at its recreation facilities so that the programs aren’t as heavily subsidized by the general taxpayer.
Recreation department fees haven’t been updated in over 10 years, and the city says it’s time to look at an update that would not only bring the department closer to cost-neutral, but also allow it to be more responsive to the community’s needs.
To do so, the department would need a pricing policy that would allow fees to fluctuate according to the demand for various programs and services as well as the costs associated with the programs themselves.
“A pricing policy would create the foundation for an efficient pricing process and a future fee structure that will ensure financially sustainable services in the future and allow flexibility to reflect market and community changes,” according to the staff report presented to council April 12. “Such a policy would also allow for adjustments that would more accurately reflect the cost of doing business. A policy approach would also allow the city to use marketing and promotional strategies like offering two for one deals or discounts.”
Various pricing and policy models will be considered by council, but it won’t be happening right away. The report was presented at council’s request that the fee structure be reviewed, but when it was presented, council acknowledged that it really shouldn’t be a top priority right now with everything else that’s on its plate.
“While I appreciate the report, considering the staff vacancies that we currently have … and the workload that staff already have, I really see this as a lower priority compared to the other issues that we have on the burner right now,” says Mayor Andy Adams.
Coun. Claire Moglove, Cornfield and Evans said they would like to see the plan move forward as soon as possible.
“The recreation department is one of the most heavily subsidized departments we have in the city in terms of taxpayer dollars,” Moglove says. “In order to alleviate that, we need to have a better fee structure in place, because it is a significant drain on the taxpayer.”
In the end, council voted in favour of deferring the consideration of the policy for four months to get some other priorities dealt with before tasking staff with this one but still be able to have it completed before going into financial planning deliberations for the 2022 budget.
But Coun. Ron Kerr would have like to see it pushed back even more, considering the state of the world right now, and says if there’s anything the taxpayer should be okay subsidizing right now, it’s recreation.
“Especially in these COVID times, in terms of good community health, this is the best place we could be putting our money,” Kerr says. “The fact that it’s subsidized is not a bad thing. I would hate to start hitting our community with higher fees right now while we’re actually trying to encourage them to step out and use recreation services.”
Watch the Mirror for updates on how the policy moves forward in the future.